This is not gonna be pretty.
When I was a kid, I remember growing up and feeling overwhelmed at having to constantly explain to people what I believed and who I was. All of my friends didn’t understand why I didn’t have a Christmas tree in the house or why I was eating my usual peanut butter sandwiches for a whole week on matzo. How on earth is a 7 year old supposed to explain that she’s Jewish and believes in Jesus?!
College was even no different. I remember standing in line to get a cup of coffee on campus and someone behind me asking me if I was Jewish (I was wearing my Star of David). When I said yes then they also asked if I was a student. I said yes. They had this puzzled look on their face and said, “How can you go to school here if you’re a Jew?” I kid you not!
This sounds so horrible, but I wish I was understood without having to feel like I’m defending the very core of who I am. I have no problem conversing with people and telling them my background. I can’t blame people for asking because they usually genuinely want to know so they can know me better. I’m very proud of my Jewish heritage and my faith. But for once, I would like to just not have to say anything and be understood. I know there aren’t a lot of us, and I know in a Christian setting all the time, many don’t understand how I can lead a believer’s life while still maintaining my Jewish heritage when it seems on the surface that they conflict.
I think I’m just feeling like I’m always out of place or misunderstood. The Seminary TJ attends is very big on singing Hymns. Out of place. People seem offended that we didn’t decorate for Christmas. Misunderstood. My apartment manager left a note on the door telling us to remove our mazuzah because there isn’t supposed to be anything on the doorposts. Ignorant.
I struggle to keep my Jewish identity when I am the only one living it. I’ve gotta find an outlet where I can just be myself without any explanation.